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carolinagrl

Dispatch Dictators

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As both an EMT, FF, and dispatcher for fire, ems, and law enforcment, I can tell you that thing are not always as they appear which is something that I did not really know till I started working in the bat cave myself, I would love to send everything that anyone asked for but sometimes I just dont have it, or sending it will take away something from my system that I need to get something else done, Its kind of like playing a game of chess, and sadly we never have enough pieces. I know that sound cold, but I can tell you a couple of things If you are in trouble I will always send help, If I have to leave the bat cave come out there and throw a radio at them I will, If I have it and you ask for it, and I dont send it to you there is a reason, it could be that I am watching one of the call takers take a call for there area, I may have them staged in there station because pd is down the road on a high risk warrant, and Instead of paging them out and waking them up I decided that they could sleep, because I trusted them that when I hit that tone they would be out of that station in less than a minute. When you go to an assault and I dont send first responders, It may be because I have already talked to the deputies and Its just b.s. and there is no reason to put additional units on the road that have the potential to run into one another, (yes it happens alot) or cause a wake related accident, In its best form a system status controler, aka dispatcher (or as I prefer to be called radio) has the duty to look after the system, balancing the risk vs rewards of everything that happens in the system, I can not tell you how well it works in your area, sometimes I can not tell you how well it works in my area, I can only speak for the ideal and the ideal is good, it involves protocals, balanced by discretion. It depends on the medical director, control center, management, and the field crews all working together to take what has historcally been a system of a single ambulance going to help a single pt to an operation that is multi faceted, working to service an area with a well balanced responsive system that looks at the needs of a whole community.

Nice response for your first post. Concise and to the point.

WElcome to the city.

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I work in a large Fire Based Urban EMS System and have at times had issues with dispatchers, but its not really THERE fault. When we ask for police for anything thats not an all out "assist" the dispatcher asks "reason for police?" Only because they have to tell the Police Dispatcher something, not that police will actually show though.

We have a set protocol on when we have a "first responder" engine or ladder dispatched on an assignement with us. For example if the squad is comming from greater then 2mi, on an ALS or Trauma call then someone would be going with you. We could travel the length of the city without a "first responder" on a BLS call, or to a private medical facility.

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It depends on what type of system you operate in. Our system uses dispatchers who are not sworn department members, they are not in our chain of command, they work for a separate agency, they are in a separate union, we do not report to them, and they have a standard set of instructions- mostly automatic responses for various incidents. They do have discretion in terms of what ADDITIONAL resources they can send, but there are a few of them who think we somehow report to them. About the only thing they can ask us is why we are asking for police support- not to determine if they will send the help, but only because the police ask them to provide that information.

Honestly, before we went to a CAD system, they did have a lot more discretion, and for the most part were very good. They knew the city, they knew the crews, and they could actually weed out some of the BS calls. Not any more- we turn nothing down. Now, a trained monkey can do their jobs. The computer tells them what to do, which buttons to push, and which keys to punch.They actually are subject to discipline if they deviate from their protocol and freelance. Stressful at times? Sure, but the machines do all the heavy lifting and decision making for them.

So some of the reasons they ask stupid questions may be legit., some of it may be because some folks feel the need to exert and exercise what little authority they may have. Tough to know.

I'll never forget one call when we were literally fighting for our lives with a combative patient. I did not have a chance to grab the mike on my portable radio but was able to reach the transmit button hold it open so the commotion could clearly be heard, stated our unit and position, while yelling for a 10-1 police backup, which means an emergency. I heard the question from the dispatcher- "Why do you need the police?" I wanted to reach through the radio and choke the living crap out of this a'hole. At this point, I was finally able to grab the microphone and yell my answer-"Because unless you are deaf, you must be able to hear we are getting our asses kicked by a violent patient!". Obviously profanity on the radio is an FCC no-no, but I wasn't particularly concerned about a fine at the time. The dispatcher actually admonished me for my cursing. We finally got things under control and the police came and took the patient into custody. We had a few bumps and bruises but were otherwise OK.

Afterwords, I was told a supervisor paid a little visit to the dispatcher. After the call, I was so irate that I called the dispatch office, asked to speak to his supervisor( who was a friend of mine), and told him that if I ever saw this dispatcher off the clock, he would probably need some time off work because he may find it difficult to talk for awhile. The supervisor apologized profusely and after reviewing the tapes of the incident agreed I had a legitmate beef. If we request a 10-1, no further information needs to be given.

I know the gravity of the situation was clear- several of our rigs were actually responding to help us out based on what they heard on the air. The dispatcher was just being a prick.

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I once had a despatcher ask us to attend the scene of a violent psych and then notify them if we required LEO's. We to an fro'd for a couple of minutes about not attending the scene until proven safe or finding out the scene was dangerous and needing assistance. It ended when i threatened to jist ring 000 on my mobile and tell them al the details we had been given "violent male, psych history brandishing a wooden pole"

I got my way in the end :D

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